Our department has been known as the Department of Speech for the better part of three decades. Three decades ago the nature of the department, i.e., the faculty, the curriculum, the degree programs were consistent with a Speech department.
But times have changed and so has the Department of Speech. Over the past two decades the department has evolved so that our faculty, our research, our curriculum, and our graduate program reflect not an emphasis on oral communication practicum but a comprehensive exploration of all facets of human communication. Our faculty come from top ranked Communication programs and they publish in the top Communication journals. Our graduate students have gone on to become faculty in top Communication programs. We are well known in the National and International Communication Associations as a strong Communication program and the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS) http://www.cios.org/www/cvsearch_state.htm ranks us as a top ten program in multiple areas of Communication, including Intercultural Communication.
And yet we were still known as the Department of Speech, perhaps the last Department of Speech in any RU/VH (Research Universities, Very High research activity).
As any member of the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa community knows, there already exists on our campus a School of Communications. Their curriculum, their faculty research interests are largely (though certainly not entirely) significantly different from ours. However the field of Communication is extremely wide, characterized by a great diversity of interests and approaches to studying Communication. Any survey of Communication departments across the country would find many departments that look like the School of Communications. In short, the name “Department of Communication” belonged to another department who had a historical and disciplinary claim to that name. There was no reason for us to expect that name would be made available to us anytime soon.
For twenty years the faculty and students of the Department of Speech have been uncomfortable with our name but could find no obvious alternative that would provide an accurate reflection of who we are. So we began to think outside that self-imposed box.
We decided that our focus on developing theory and research on the process of communication, particularly human communication warranted a name that reflected that focus. Because the suffix ‘ology’ indicates an area of study, a branch of knowledge, we opted to pursue the name Department of Communicology. Although the name has not yet been used by any other department in the United States of America, we saw no disadvantage in opting to be the first to use it. Our faculty unanimously agreed to pursue it.
We spent a year writing and finally submitting a proposal to change the name of our department and our degree programs to reflect Communicology. Our undergraduate and graduate students as well as alumni enthusiastically expressed their support for the name change. We met with the expected occasional conservative resistance to taking a novel path but argued persuasively in support of our case. In Spring of 2011 Chancellor Hinshaw accepted our proposal and signed off on the Department’s change, and Fall 2011, the change takes effect.
In 2011-2012, the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa will graduate its first students with B.A.s and M.A.s in Communicology!